Litigation could disrupt Mediacom service to Richmond

Cable TV and internet customers in the Richmond area may see their service disrupted.
Mediacom Inc. supplies cable TV and high-speed internet service to the area, but a lawsuit involving the right of way may jeopardize that.
City Administrator Rick Childers told the City Council Tuesday night that he received a request from Mediacom to write a letter in the company’s support.
Childers said he spoke with both Police Chief Terri McWilliams and Fire Chief Lonnie Quick about the situation and reported that both said it could be an issue with storm and emergency warnings. Childers said that there are other ways of warning, such as the city’s sirens, but citizens cannot get communication to what’s happening.
The case involves whether or not Mediacom had permission to attach equipment to already existing utility poles. According to a report in yesterday’s Kansas City Star the case started here in Ray County with fiber optic cables being strung across a soybean field. According to the story the field’s owners, Gary and Janice Ogg, the company did not request permission when the lines were installed in 1999.
Mediacom Vice President of Public Affairs Mike Kohler said the company received indications from the State Highway Department that it would be OK to place the lines there. Furthermore, Kohler said other utility companies had already ran line on the same property.
A judge initially ruled in favor of Mediacom but the case was overturned in appellate court.
“We had a good faith belief that we were in compliance with applicable laws and using space that we believed to be under the control of the State Highway Department,” Kohler said in a released statement to The Daily News. “With respect to that issue of control of the State Highway Department, the legislature addressed that matter in 2005 by positively stating what was always believed to be the case.”
Kohler said though, there is no immediate concern.
“One of the parties in this case clearly asserted that he or they had a right to take down our wires,” he said. “We asked the court to prevent it from happening. Fortunately, that isn’t a concern because that party has since confirmed that such action would not be taken.”

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